The new season has started well for the team as a whole, in fact the club has made its best start for quite a few years, but one of last season’s heroes seems to be struggling to replicate the form that made him an instant hit with fans and the first of the new signings this summer.
Adlene Guedioura played a huge part in keeping the Reds from being relegated last season and all fans were united in their pleasure at seeing the Algerian midfielder make his loan move permanent once the club’s ownership was resolved. In the opening games of this season, however, he has not managed to live up to such top billing and his form has been questioned.
Significantly the introduction of holding midfielder Simon Gillett, who by contrast has stood out so far as a key part of the team’s progress, has changed the shape of the team compared to last year and Guedioura has so far found it difficult to adapt to what has become a hybrid role in a diamond midfield formation.
He made his mark playing as one of two central midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Blackstock leading the line and crucially Garath McCleary providing pace and penetration down the right wing. This season the strength of the forward line and the loss of natural width with McCleary’s departure to Reading has led to Guedioura being nudged a little to the right and out of sorts.
The formation has changed to 4-1-3-2 with Gillett sitting deep and Guedioura, McGugan and Reid ahead of him. With Reid being used to playing on the left as well as centrally he is more comfortable moving between the spaces, but Guedioura is noticeably finding it difficult and is currently falling between the two roles.
It means that his position may ultimately be better suited to Henri Lansbury or James Coppinger who share Reid’s experience of playing in both positions. The only way that Guedioura looks to fit into a side that plays a deep, holding midfielder would be if they moved to a lone striker, with wide players, such as the 4-1-2-3 played by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, which plays to his strengths, limits the space he needs to cover and gives him a wide outlet.
Of course, having invested heavily in firepower to bring in Simon Cox and Billy Sharp, alongside Blackstock, it would be a brave decision on the manager’s part to only play one of them at a time and, although O’Driscoll’s style is more about passing and movement than raw pace, there is no one in the Forest squad who possesses the speed and direct running of McCleary.
That is not to say that Guedioura is now surplus to requirements, despite a relative drop in form he has not let anyone down with his performances or effort. There will be times during a long season when we need a flexible squad and particularly away from home I can see a lone striker formation (whether it be 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-3) being employed again. With Gillett not only playing very well but also seemingly a key figure in the way the manager wants to structure the team, however, it does seem that in the short term the Algerian may have to make way.
Formation | Flickr – Photo Sharing! : taken from – http://www.flickr.com/photos/tatham/3239944007/Author: tathamoddie http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB